Suddenly craving a big jar of pickles? Your pregnancy cravings might seem pretty weird, but there really is an explanation behind that sudden crazy craving for salty chips or sweet caramel. Hormonal changes could be one meaning behind your pregnancy cravings but they can also be attributed to a deficiency in your diet. Or it could simply be “all in your head”. Either way, embrace those cravings and, as much as you can, try some healthy alternatives to curb those sudden urges. So what do those pregnancy cravings really mean? Read on to find out!
When do the cravings really start?
Your pregnancy cravings can start as early as the first trimester, get stronger in the second (think late night trips to the ice cream store) and decrease again in the third trimester.
How long do the cravings last?
This can be different for each woman, even for those who have had multiple pregnancies. Some women have cravings throughout their entire pregnancy while others only have them for a short period of time. You might crave something just for a day or as long as month. It really depends on your individual body.
Avoid these foods during your pregnancy
There are certain foods you should avoid during your pregnancy, whether you crave them or not. Stay away from undercooked and raw meat, eggs, poultry, seafood and deli meats that have not been steamed. Any unpasteurized dairy products, alcohol, herbal teas, caffeinated drinks, unwashed fruits and vegetables are also foods you should steer clear of.
The 5 Most Common Pregnancy Cravings and their Healthy Alternatives
Cravings for sweets are common in pregnancy. There’s even an old wives tale that says if a woman craves sweets she’s having a girl! But too many sweets could lead to excess weight gain and put you at risk for gestational diabetes so it’s important that you limit the amount of sugar you’re taking in. The reason you crave more sugar during pregnancy could be a result of the increase in blood volume or because of hormonal changes that cause your blood sugar to dip.
Healthy alternatives: To keep your blood sugar levels stable, eat more protein rich foods and complex, unrefined carbs such as wholegrain bread, brown rice and quinoa. If you still find your cravings for sweets to be out of control, opt for fresh fruit instead or swap out your white refined sugar for honey or maple syrup.
Some people crave sweet foods while others crave salty. If you have low sodium levels in your diet, you might crave more salty or spicy food. It could also be a result of the increase in blood volume women experience due to pregnancy and the growing baby.
Healthy alternatives: While some may say to avoid salt altogether, it is still an important part of a pregnant woman’s diet. Instead of processed, refined salt, use an unrefined sea salt or pink Himalayan salt. It’s better for you and contains a variety of minerals essential for your body.
You might find yourself suddenly craving spicy foods, even if you usually don’t like spicy things. Try to avoid spicy foods in the first trimester, when morning sickness is at its peak. This is because your sense of smell is strongest in the first trimester and spicy foods may be too much for you to handle. Be warned though – spicy foods can cause some trouble with your digestive system and bring about uncomfortable heartburn.
Healthy alternatives: Try scrambled eggs with spicy salsa, popcorn sprinkled with cayenne pepper or other spicy seasoning, spicy roasted chickpeas, or try adding a handful of wasabi peas to your favorite fruit & nut trail mix.
This is one that you probably crave whether you’re pregnant or not. So why is it such a big contender on your craving list? It contains significant levels of magnesium which most women are lacking and is an essential mineral for muscle and nerve function.
Healthy alternatives: Nuts, beans, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and raw cacao.
Strange or Non-Food Cravings
While it is rare, there are times that pregnant women crave non-food items like dirt, clay, chalk or sand. This is due to a disorder called pica which is linked to deficiencies in certain minerals, like iron. If you find yourself craving something other than food, call your doctor or midwife right away. To reduce your risk of developing pica, make sure you’re getting enough iron during your pregnancy. Eat plenty of meat, beans and spinach as they are all foods high in iron. If you find you’re not getting enough iron from your food, then try taking a supplement that contains iron, folate and calcium for maximum absorption.
Cravings are a very common thing for pregnant women, especially in the first trimester. While it might seem like there’s no rhyme or reason for sending your husband on a sudden trip to the grocery store, there’s often something behind those crazy cravings. Whether it’s due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy or that your body is lacking a certain nutrient, your cravings are not something to ignore. Once you decipher your weird cravings, try replacing your favorite sweet, salty and spicy foods with healthy alternatives. That’s because a good healthy diet is important for both you and your growing baby. Hunger, restlessness and hormones can all intensify your cravings so make sure you eat a healthy, well balanced diet and get as much exercise as your body will allow. And remember, it’s ok to give in to those crazy cravings every once in a while. Just do so in moderation. So grab that jar of pickles and eat up!
And while you’re snacking on your latest craving, take a peek at Bubzi Co.’s adorable and useful baby products. Whether you’re looking for a premium nasal aspirator to clear baby’s nose or a sleep soothing owl projector and sound machine, you’re sure to find something you’ll want before the arrival of your new little one!